Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Raise Your Hand if You Fail at Lent

It’s Lent everybody!

So, in the event that you’re Catholic, it’s that time of year that you solemnly observe the liturgical calendar and, for 40 days, you fast or otherwise abstain from some indulgences, apart from the gross consumption of fish on Fridays.  

Or, if you’re like me and simply married to a Catholic, you make some half-assed proclamation that you too are going to sacrifice something for 40 days.

As strong as the tree she's hugging, Mrs. Blackwell's will isn't
to be underestimated — nor is her capacity to scorn those who
fail with in their lenten vows. Kidding. She's obviously quite
tolerant — of many things.
Solidarity, right?

Besides, there’s something to be said for abstaining from at least one pleasure for a period of time. 

If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to prove to oneself that you can do it. That you’ve got the will power, fortitude, whatever you want to call it, to deny yourself something that you enjoy.

If you want to get philosophical about it, I suppose you could view it as an assertion of free will. You know, nothing has control over me, right?

For this year Mrs. Blackwell is giving up sweets and is refraining from using her phone between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. for anything other than conversing with people. So, in theory, she won’t have her eyes glued to Facebook while she’s eating dinner.

For my part, I am giving up chocolate and the consumption of beer on more than one occasion per week. I know, I know, I know what a monumental sacrifice — however will I do it?

Well, the answer is, I won’t.

You see, as quickly as I make my “Lenten vow” I forgot I’ve made it and do this, seemingly, every single year. This year was no different.

The day after Lent started last week, I was at an office potluck two bites into a huge slice of chocolate cake when I remembered my vow. To be clear, not 24 hours after beginning this exercise, I’d forgotten it.

A few years ago, I was enjoying my second beer at a happy hour when I remembered that I’d made the vow to not drink beer. Then too, it wasn’t more than a couple days after I’d made the vow that I’d forgotten.
The fish fry. The very picture of restraint and sacrifice we
Wisconsinites make with great regularity during Lent.

Now, would seem an appropriate time to circle back to my previous comments about will power and fortitude.

More accurately, now might be a good time to acknowledge that I have neither. But, I’m not going to stop trying. I quit smoking, so there’s something inside of me that’s capable of this sort of resolve.

When you’re at this point, a big, beautiful piece of forbidden chocolate cake sitting in front of you, like a sweet slice of failure, you’ve can perceive your goal as irrevocably lost or you can choose to perceive it as altered.

I’ve opted for the latter and am tying a metaphorical string around my finger to remember my promises to me.

While the boy isn’t yet old enough to remember these practices, it’s never too early to get in the habit of occasionally stiffening one’s resolve. By the time the boy is old enough to know what’s up, his old man will be a pillar of perseverance, a veritable oak of a man.

That is, until someone offers me a beer.

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